VIF Neighbourhood News Digest: 18th June, 2018

Taliban say ceasefire will not be extended, fighting to resume: Express Tribune
June 17, 2018

The Taliban said Sunday they would not extend their three-day ceasefire with Afghan security forces and fighting would resume, dashing hopes for the recent peace to continue. The comments by Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid come after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced Saturday a government truce with the militants would be extended. He asked the group to reciprocate. “The ceasefire ends tonight and our operations will begin, inshallah. We have no intention to extend the ceasefire,” Mujahid told AFP in a WhatsApp message. The first formal, nationwide ceasefire in the country since the 2001 US invasion had been met with jubilation across the country as Afghans — Taliban, security forces and civilians — celebrated Eid, the holiday that caps the fasting month of Ramazan. Click here to read...

Afghans Sorry To See End Of Three-Day Ceasefire: Tolo News
June 17, 2018

For the vast majority of Afghans, who have lived through 17 years of war, the past three days have been a welcome respite from the never ending conflict. However, Afghans are concerned that the Taliban will resume the conflict on Monday, as Eid-al-Fitr comes to an end. After government announced an eight-day ceasefire, Taliban last week responded by calling for a three-day truce over Eid. The ceasefire these past three days has been adhered to by both sides. However, some religious scholars have said the resumption of the war in the country has no justification and that the only solution to the ongoing conflict is dialogue. Meanwhile, the temporary ceasefire was widely welcomed in Afghanistan and on an international level. The UN, European Union (EU) and the US have all called on the Taliban and the Afghan government to extend the truce. Click here to read...

Oli consults with ex-PMs on China visit: Kathmandu Post
June 18, 2018

Ahead of his visit to China that begins on Tuesday, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli held consultations with former PMs on Sunday. PM Oli leaves for a five-day visit to China on Tuesday. Almost all the former PMs consulted advised Oli to sign the Protocol to Transit and Transportation Agreement and some other pacts signed with the northern neighbour during his visit to China in 2016, said Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali. The former prime ministers also urged Oli to pursue projects and assistance from China so that Nepal can benefit from the giant neighbour’s rapid development. They also advised him to attract Chinese investments into Nepal. Former PMs Sher Bahadur Deuba, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, Madhav Kumar Nepal, Jhala Nath Khanal and Baburam Bhattarai attended the meeting. Bhattarai, the Naya Shakti Nepal coordinator, presented a separate 10-point suggestion to PM Oli. Click here to read...

US to continue support for Myanmar: senior official: Frontier Myanmar
June 15, 2018

A senior White House official has said that the United States is committed to supporting Myanmar, and has encouraged American firms to invest in the country, despite widespread criticism of its handling of the crisis in Rakhine State. Mr Matt Pottinger, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the White House National Security Council, held a briefing with journalists in Yangon on Thursday, during a three-day visit to Myanmar. During his trip, he is expected to meet with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as members of the country’s military, and civil society. “Over the long term, we believe that increasing investment here, increasing confidence in Myanmar will lead to [economic growth], and ultimately that will have the best effect on mitigating the discrimination, mitigating the suffering that’s affecting many different groups in Myanmar,” he said. Pottinger said that the US administration, led by President Donald Trump, is not considering broad economic sanctions against Myanmar, but is looking at narrow sanctions “aimed at individuals who we believe the evidence shows should be held accountable for some of the atrocities” in northern Rakhine State. He added that some members of congress were considering “more punitive measures”, without elaborating. Click here to read...

Xi stresses building elite maritime force during navy inspection: People’s Daily
June 18, 2018

President Xi Jinping has stressed building an elite maritime force to resolutely accomplish various missions entrusted by the Party and the people. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the call during an inspection to the navy under the Northern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army on June 11. Xi emphasized the need to resolutely implement the Party's thinking on strengthening the military for the new era and continue to enhance the political loyalty of the armed forces, strengthen them through reform and technology, and run them in accordance with law. Click here to read...

China decides to impose additional tariffs on 50 bln USD of U.S. imports: People’s Daily
June 18, 2018

Approved by the State Council, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council has decided to impose additional duties of 25 percent on 659 items of U.S. products worth about 50 billion U.S. dollars. Additional tariffs for 545 items worth about 34 billion U.S. dollars, including agricultural products, vehicles and aquatic products, will be effective from July 6, 2018, according to a statement of the commission. The implementation date for imposing additional tariffs on the remaining 114 items, covering chemical products, medical equipment and energy products, will be announced later. Click here to read...

From China to Central Asia, a regional security bloc’s long, slow march towards an alternative world order: South China Morning Post
June 18, 2018

While the world was captivated this week by the globetrotting show of US President Donald Trump, another summit just days earlier suggested what an alternative world order might look like. Various heads of state from member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) met in the Chinese city of Qingdao for the bloc’s annual heads of state meeting. Click here to read...

China sounds out Japan and South Korea for another summit about North Korea this year, sources say: South China Morning Post
June 18, 2018

China has sounded out Japan and South Korea to hold a trilateral summit again in December in Beijing, hoping to further ramp up cooperation to denuclearise North Korea, diplomatic sources said Sunday. With the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea having met for a summit in Tokyo just last month, it would be unusual for a trilateral meeting at this level to be held again in the same year. Click here to read...

China working on drones to assist firefighters: China Daily
June 17, 2018

Chinese scientists and engineers are designing drones to help firefighters rescue trapped people, especially in high-rise building fires. Developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), the drones can quickly fly into a building via doors or windows, search for trapped people and plan rescue routes. When a fire occurs in a high-rise building, firefighters often have to walk upstairs and their sight is affected by heavy smoke, making it hard to plan a rescue route. Click here to read...

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